Embracing Sweet Melancholy

10 Sep

I was watching a movie the other day . . . Elizabethtown . . . for maybe the third time, possibly the fourth.  For a variety of reasons that movie touches me, reasons I don’t need to go into at this point, in this place . . . but there was one scene where the girl tells the guy to go take his trip and allow sweet melancholy to overtake him.

That line has always stayed with me. I just love that phrase “sweet melancholy.”

Many of you know I’m a recovering alcoholic.  In November I will celebrate thirteen years of sobriety, and one thing I have learned over those thirteen years is that I need to avoid depression.  I cannot allow my mind to dive back into the deep pools of darkness.  For me it is a matter of survival.

But I can allow sweet melancholy, and that is what I’m feeling now.

A little over a week ago I made an unplanned trip down to Ashland, Oregon, to see my best friend Frank.  When I say “best friend” it is a bit weak in describing him.  “Brother” would be closer to the truth. I have known him since 1962 and I truly love him like a brother.  He is one of the few people on this planet I feel at ease with, and one of the few people I can be myself around.

Frank is dying.  He was diagnosed with spinal cancer four years ago, and a few weeks ago he called me and told me we are now down to weeks rather than months.

So I made the trip to Ashand to see my brother and to say goodbye to him.

Sweet melancholy!

We sat as old friends sit, and we reminisced.  We laughed about shared memories, and we cried.  We found the time to tell each other how important we were to each other, and we expressed sincere gratitude for the connection.

And then it was time to go, and I said goodbye!

It is so rare that we humans make that kind of deep connection with another human being.  I am grateful and blessed that I found it with Frank.  I am grateful and blessed that I can write about this without wanting to drink.

I am grateful for sweet melancholy.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

38 Responses to “Embracing Sweet Melancholy”

  1. Audrey M Howitt September 10, 2019 at 4:41 pm #

    Saying goodbye is so difficult. The older and closer the friend, the harder it is. My heart goes out to both of you. Sorry I haven’t been around as much lately, I have had a bunch on my plate lately it seems–best to you Bil–

    • Billybuc September 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm #

      Thank you Audrey! You are always missed and always appreciated when you do re-appear. 🙂

  2. Susan Zutautas September 10, 2019 at 4:48 pm #

    So sorry, Bill. I know how you feel though as my cousin and I were as close as a brother and sister and he died from liver failure. I think about him all the time and miss him dearly. I was able to spend a week with him before he died. He meant the world to me.
    Take care and have a good week. Sending you virtual hugs.

    • Billybuc September 10, 2019 at 4:50 pm #

      Thanks so much, Susan! I’m afraid the good comes with the bad eventually. We can’t love without experiencing deep loss.

  3. Janine Huldie September 10, 2019 at 5:56 pm #

    Bill, I am truly at a loss and just so sorry about your “brother”. My heart goes out to you at this time. I know it is only a small gesture, but just glad you did get to spend time with him before. Sending you so many hugs right now, my friend and just know I am thinking about you here in my little part of the world ❤

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:55 pm #

      Janine, thank you so very much. Life is good and I have to keep reminding myself of that…sometimes daily…your friendship helps me,believe it or not.

  4. Shauna L Bowling September 10, 2019 at 7:23 pm #

    Bill, my heart goes out to you and Frank. It’s wonderful that you were able to say goodbye the way you did, rather than in a hospital.

    I didn’t realize just how strong you are until I read the words, “I am grateful and blessed that I can write about this without wanting to drink.” Those are pretty powerful words. Even more powerful is the conviction behind it.

    God bless you, my friend. Frank, too.

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:54 pm #

      Sha, thank you! I’m strong enough to go through this because I put in the work years earlier,and because of all those alcoholics who faced similar situations in the past…..and because of friends like you.


  5. Lori Colbo September 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm #

    Sending love and prayers, Bill. Tough to say goodbye after a lifetime of being brothers. I’m sorry. Thirteen, yahoo. I have sensed a little sweet melancholy with you. Don’t let it take you down anymore. Self-care is so important. I am able to recognize when I’m headed that way and have tools I use to get out of it or through it. You are a beautiful man and an inspiration to us all. Keep on keepin’ on dude.

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:52 pm #

      I’m all right, Lori, but thank you. I wouldn’t have been all right if I had used alcohol as an excuse for not seeing Frank. I faced the demon and was strong enough to do so. Life is good, my friend.

  6. Andrea Stephenson September 10, 2019 at 8:18 pm #

    So sorry that you are having to say goodbye to a true friend Bill, but congratulations to you on your continuing sobriety. I enjoy sweet melancholy too, I think it’s almost my natural disposition!

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:51 pm #

      I think you and I are quite alike in that way, Andrea. I seem to be most comfortable in “melancholy.” Thank you for sharing that.

  7. 1authorcygnetbrown September 10, 2019 at 10:43 pm #

    I remember that not too long ago (2014), my sister was dying and the only way we could communicate was by phone because I lived almost 1000 miles away. Had responsibilities at home and couldn’t go see her but to go to the funeral. I would have given anything to be there to be with her. I am glad you had the chance to say goodbye to your friend in person.

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:50 pm #

      Same thing for me when my sister died, Donna….so I understand. Thank you!

  8. 1authorcygnetbrown September 10, 2019 at 10:44 pm #

    As hard as I’m sure it was for you, I know it was good for you to see him in person.

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:49 pm #

      It was good for me….necessary for me…Donna!Thank you!

  9. Sageleaf September 11, 2019 at 1:00 am #

    Ah…sweet melancholy. Witnessing the passing of a loved one is difficult. An array of feelings accompany it. I am thinking of you and holding you in my heart as you navigate these next weeks. The cycles of life aren’t always so easy. It’s a blessing you have had someone in your life since 1962. A rare gift. I hope I will be able to say the same of some of my closest friends I’ve known since 1997 and others since childhood in the 80s. Ha. Sending you hugs, Big Bro.

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:49 pm #

      Thank you Lil Sis…it is not easy, but it is necessary at times to wade through the dark times of emotions. At least I am now strong enough to do it in a healthy way.

      love always

  10. swalia September 11, 2019 at 1:53 am #

    Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy. I am really sorry for what you’re going through. Love and prayers!!

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:47 pm #

      I appreciate that, Shaloo….thank you so much for your kindness.

  11. Sue Dreamwalker September 11, 2019 at 10:56 am #

    Tears flowed as I read this Bill.. True, real friendship is so rare, and that you are like brothers makes saying our farewells even harder..
    I only ever had one true, real friend in life and I often think Melancholy thoughts as she too took her transition through cancer far to soon aged 50,
    So I understand how you both sat, shared the sweet memories of laughter and humour..
    Those who know deep depression, know how important it is to keep the melancholy light..
    I am happy you got the chance to visit and reminisce those old times…

    Thinking of you both and sending much love

    • Billybuc September 11, 2019 at 1:46 pm #

      You are very sweet, Sue, and I thank you. Yes, you know what it feels like. I am grateful for that time we spent. It was deeply profound and I am so happy we were able to write our final chapter together.



      • Sue Dreamwalker September 11, 2019 at 2:10 pm #

        Yes Bill, That is what counts.. 🙂

  12. phoenix2327 September 13, 2019 at 9:34 am #

    Hey, Bill.

    I pretty much said what I wanted to in our last correspondence. Let me just add, respect to you. It’s so easy to use a situation like this to justify hitting the bottle. But you didn’t. I couldn’t be prouder.

    My thoughts are with you, my friend.

    • Billybuc September 13, 2019 at 1:42 pm #

      That means a great deal to me,Zulma, so I thank you! Hugs coming your way.

      • phoenix2327 September 17, 2019 at 10:32 am #

        Thanks, Bill. It’s getting chillier now. Maybe those hugs will keep me warm. 🙂

      • Billybuc September 17, 2019 at 1:41 pm #

        It’s downright nasty here. I’m thinking of building the first fire of the year in the woodstove. 😦

  13. phoenix2327 September 18, 2019 at 1:37 pm #

    I presume you have marshmallows and hot dogs on stand by, yes?

    • Billybuc September 18, 2019 at 1:47 pm #

      I’m laughing, Zulma…oddly yes, we do have them…we rarely have those two things on stand by. I don’t even remember the last time I had a marshmallow. Must be Bev’s secret stash.

      • phoenix2327 September 18, 2019 at 2:28 pm #

        Excellent! Oh…and hot chocolate. I nearly forgot the hot chocolate.

      • Billybuc September 18, 2019 at 2:46 pm #

        Duh! Of course hot chocolate!

  14. phoenix2327 September 18, 2019 at 3:15 pm #

    Sounds like you’re set for a cosy evening. I admit I’m a little envious.

  15. Sarah Potter Writes September 19, 2019 at 3:15 pm #

    Dearest Bill, I’m so sad to hear about Frank. It is also beautiful that you’ve experienced such a deep friendship with another human. Some people never experience such a wonderful thing. And I’m so proud of you not reaching for a drink, or two, or three. I’m sure that Frank is proud of you, too. Sweet melancholy tastes much better than alcohol, and is much better for your liver and your soul. Sending you lots of love and hugs xxxx,

    • Billybuc September 19, 2019 at 5:05 pm #

      Sarah, thank you for your lovely words and support. I am more happy than sad. I was able to say goodbye to a special person, and tell him how much he meant to me. We don’t often get that chance, so I am grateful.

      Thank you for the hugs and love….very nice gifts.

  16. Maria Ruiz September 21, 2019 at 1:49 pm #

    Read this and felt I was really listening.
    Being able to share gratefully sweet melancholy and feeling blessed is such a privilege for those that can share (like you Bill) and for those that can know about it one way or another (like us readers).
    Proud for knowing your strength and yeah … Life and death are inseparable we can’t let the knowledge of it depress us. But while there is life, just like you did, we show life’s importance and we show love. Thanks, for your inspiration by sharing.

    • Billybuc September 21, 2019 at 2:50 pm #

      Maria, thank you for sharing your faith and strength. I know for sure you understand the melancholy I speak about. Sending hugs and love your way.

  17. Shell Vera October 9, 2019 at 5:57 am #

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, Bill. Saying goodbye is never easy, at any age or time. 💜❤️

    • Billybuc October 9, 2019 at 1:33 pm #

      Thank you, Shell! No, it is not easy, but he has lived a good life and it is time.

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